Health

How Scientists Built the World’s First Lab-Grown Limbs

A suspension of muscle progenitor cells is injected into the cell-free matrix of a decellularized rat limb, which provides shape and structure onto which regenerated tissue can grow. (Bernhard Jank, MD/ Ott Laboratory/Courtesy of Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine)
A suspension of muscle progenitor cells is injected into the cell-free matrix of a decellularized rat limb, which provides shape and structure onto which regenerated tissue can grow. (Bernhard Jank, MD/Ott Laboratory/Courtesy of Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine)

 

(The Washington Post) – Harald Ott spent weeks in a lab tending to a tiny rat’s forelimb. He got a special incubator for it, monitored it daily, cared for its every need.

The reason a rat leg was worth all that work? There was no rat attached to it.

Ott, a researcher and thoracic surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, is the proud parent of the world’s first lab-grown biolimb — a living, functioning, artificial leg that responds to stimuli and even circulates blood,  the hospital announced Tuesday. Though it’s still a long way off from made-to-order transplants for humans, Ott and other regeneration experts say that the tiny pink rat leg is a step toward the future of artificial limbs.

“This is science fiction coming to life,” Daniel Weiss, a lung regeneration specialist at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, told the New Scientist.

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